Resisting forestry sector reform: institutional work during India’s Forest Rights Act implementation process
Bidhan Kanti Das
Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 2022, vol. 65, issue 9, 1637-1659
This article illuminates the patterns and processes of institutional work during the creation and implementation of the FRA 2006, even as state agencies consistently resist changes in legal institutions, and continue to retain control over forestry matters through non-statutory institutions - a strategy to subvert local people’s control over the valued forest resources.The study demonstrates how ‘institutional work’ proceeded through different stages of drafting of the Act, revolving around competing demands of entitlements, leading to creation of a new institutional mechanism. Although non-state actors such as civil society organisations were actively engaged in crafting the law, their role has weakened as implementation has progressed. The state’s increasing activity frustrates reform implementation, as the reforms challenge the foresters’ bureaucratic culture and threaten their politico-economic interests. It concludes with insights for theoretical understanding on how and why institutions change, or are maintained, in case of multi-actor and multi-layered forest governance systems.
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